Common as it may seem, vomiting is still considered abnormal. Check out our expert's views on what causes vomiting and when it should be a cause for concern.
By Dr Uppal Saurabh
It is rather common for children to vomit. But most parents find it extremely disturbing as it is considered abnormal. Vomiting is one of the top five reasons why parents seek a paediatrician’s advice. While there may be several minor reasons for vomiting, it is important to monitor a child who is vomiting as it can be a sign of an underlying problem.
Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of stomach contents from the mouth. It is brought about by the contraction of the tummy and chest wall muscles. The matter that is expelled from the mouth is known as 'vomitus'. Vomitus often has a slight yellow tinge, which is caused by some of the stomach and intestinal juices expelled with it.
The brain has a ‘vomiting centre’ that gets signals from nerves in the stomach or certain brain areas. The vomiting centre sends signals to the tummy muscles and diaphragm to contract, causing a person to vomit. Vomiting is usually a ‘protective reflex’ that functions as a means to remove irritating and harmful substances from the body.
The immediate concern should be to prevent dehydration. Give your child small sips of water or shikanjvi or rice kanji every few minutes he is rehydrated and feeling better. If your baby is being breastfed, you can continue breastfeeding him.
Signs of dehydration include:
• Passing urine less frequently than usual
• Dry mouth and tongue
• No tears when crying
• Lethargy and/or irritability
• Deep, rapid breathing
• Loose and wrinkly skin
You should worry when there is:
1. Repeated vomiting
2. Vomiting with headache
3. Vomit is dark green or brown in colour
4. Vomiting is forceful (falls away from the child like a projectile)
5. Vomiting with unusual behaviour
6. Vomiting lasts more than a day
7. Vomiting in sleep
Consult a doctor immediately if one or more of these conditions persist.
To sum it up, you need not be alarmed every time your child vomits. The key is to know your child well enough so that you notice as soon as things seem unusually different.
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